This Tale was one of the first dozen or so that I drew, but I hesited to publish it, because it’s pretty dark… and I’m not just talking about the art.
The art is a style I haven’t used for any other tales. I’ve done black-and-white on others, but not this kind of harsh chiaroscuro (extreme contrast). My original plan was to use only black and white, but quickly realized that I’d need some shades of gray too. I resisted the temptation to use the spot-color gimmick that Sin City and Schindler’s List did, because it seemed… too gimmicky.
The subject matter of this Tale probably wouldn’t be so “problematic” if presented on its own, but the fact that it’s part of a series that usually ranges from pornographic to erotic to sentimental to funny… probably gives it some uncomfortable context. I expect some people will be upset that they didn’t find it sexy. And some might be upset because they did. And some because I wrote about the subject at all. But if Art has a purpose in the modern world, it’s to challenge people with stories they didn’t want to hear.
“A.Y.O.R.” is an abbreviation commonly found in old gay travel guides. It stands for “At Your Own Risk”, and indicates places in a city where gay men were known to go for sex… but even less safe than your typical gay bar or cruising area. It was the compromise the publishers used to bridge the gap between helping gay and bi men find sex in an unfamiliar city, and helping them protect themselves from the cops… or worse.
This sort of thing happens too often. Cops don’t care so much about gay people, and even less about gay (or gay-identified) sex workers, so there’s really little one can do about it when it happens. “Just go.”
What’s worse is that we now have legislation such as SESTA/FOSTA, which was supposed to fight sex-trafficking, by shutting down the use of web sites for arranging sex work. But what that does is to take away a relatively safe way for consensual sex workers to connect with clients, and put them in unsafe situations, like this. Some legislators voted for it without understanding that this is what it would do. Others damn fucking well knew… it’s what they intended.